Occasionally, news outlet report stories about someone receiving a large inheritance. Most of these stories focus on individual that had no idea about such funds. Either a loved one or a random stranger left them money, and they didn't find out until years later. You might think such stories are incredibly rare, but they do occur from time to time. In most cases, you'll think nobody will ever leave you money. That mindset could make you the perfect person to never discover money that's been left in your name.
Thousands of people receive inheritance money each and every year. When a person passes away, he or she may leave money for a family member or close friend. Sometimes, funds are willed to acquaintances or somewhat random individuals. Anyone can leave another person money after passing away, so inheritance funds may come from countless sources. The average recipient doesn't receive more than a few thousand dollars. Nonetheless, any amount of money is welcome gift, and nobody wants to turn down gifted money.
What Happens After Someone Passes Away?
An individual needs to leave a will behind upon death. Otherwise, legal precedent puts funds into the hands of a spouse, child, or family member. Detailed wills often include names, addresses, and social security numbers for beneficiaries. Not everyone keeps such a detailed will, though. In most cases, a simple will won't contain this information, and someone with power of attorney will have to find beneficiaries. Tracking down people is never an easy task as an individual might move away or change names due to marriage.
The executor of the will must make a concerted effort to find beneficiaries of a will. However, he or she can only take so many steps to track someone down. If that person is easy to find, then the funds may be held by the executor. Finding someone that has moved multiple times or married multiple times can seem impossible. Plus, that particular person doesn't know an executor of the will is searching for themselves. This makes the search even harder, especially when only a handful of leads are available to start with.
What If The Inheritance Money Remains Unclaimed?
Assuming the executor cannot find a beneficiary, various things can happen to inheritance money. First of all, funds are sometimes transferred to another beneficiary. This occurs after all options to find an heir have been exhausted. Inheritance money could also be sent to the state to be held until someone comes with an ownership claim. Similarly, the state may receive inheritance money because a named heir has passed away themselves. Each state features slightly different rules on what happens to these funds today.
After the state receives inheritance money, funds are kept with an unclaimed funds department. All 50 states operate a department like this, although the official department name tends to vary from state to state. Other funds like paychecks, utility bill refunds, and other payments can be turned over to the state as well. Either way, most states won't make too much of an effort to locate an individual with unclaimed property. They don't have the resources or the requirement to do so these days.